Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to Organize and Store Your Bead Collection - Part One: Seed Beads

As I posted about how I organized and stored my fabric collection and supplies, I decided to do the same for my beading collection. I love reading about everyone's methods of storage and organization for various crafts, whether it's fiber, beads, or paper. Some stashes are absolutely drool worthy and some methods of organization make me squee in glee.

Why Organize?

I enjoy organizing, and I am an incredibly detail-oriented person. Add in gorgeous colors and craft supplies and I'm in heaven. I love to see not only someone's method of craft supply organization, but also the reasoning behind it. I fully believe that good organization encourages and promotes more frequent crafting as well as streamlines the crafting process. I have a hard time being creative when I live and work in a messy and chaotic space. In my apartment my room is my haven, and as soon as I walk into the room I feel relaxed and serene. While I might not be big of feng shui, I am a big supporter of good organization.

This becomes especially important when you have a lot of craft supplies and several different crafts you like. I like to say that I don't believe in craft monogamy, and I partake in a multitude of crafts. I knit. I embroider. I sew. I bead. I like paper crafts. I love drawing and draw with multiple mediums, mostly watercolor pencils, pen and ink, and charcoal. Every craft has it's own supplies, and without some method of organization I would quickly become lost in my various stashes.

How large is your collection?

It's very important to consider the size of your craft collection. Use something that is large enough to leave room for you to add to your collection, but at the same time doesn't take up half the room. Think about your crafting process. Do you like to amass a large stash, or do you work with hardly any? How are you going to store your containers? While one or two of these containers is fine, what will you do when you have 6 or more? Sometimes the answer is: Find another method of organization, and that's fine. But if you think that in two months you'll need to completely redo your organizational system, then it's probably not the right system to choose. At the same time, don't buy a ten drawer rolling cabinet if you have a grand total of four seed bead tubes. Choose what's appropriate for your collection.

My bead collection is medium sized. While I would love to have enough beads to need a cabinet organizer to store them, I am nowhere near that point. Right now I have two separate containers for my beads, one for seed beads and the second for all my other beads and supplies.

My Seed Beads

The first container is your generic type of sterilite container with a lid, except that it has two handles on the lid that you snap down to lock the lid onto the body. I love the fact that the lid actually locks on rather than snaps on like your basic sterilite container. Even though all my beads are contained in their own little tubes inside the container, I feel a lot safer with a lid that locks.

This container holds all of my seed beads. Like most beaders, I have a variety of different sizes of seed beads, so I made dividers out of cardboard to separate the box into three different sections. The first holds all of my 6/0, 8/0 ,and 10/0 beads. The middle holds the 11/0 beads, which I have the most of. I've found them to be the most versatile size for bead stitching. The last section holds the 15/0 and a few tubes of bugles.

Every color and type of bead is in it's own container. Most are in bead tubes, which is my preferred method of seed bead storage. When I started beading I mainly purchased czech seed beads which are sold by the hank. When I redid my seed bead storage last week I took each hank and put all the beads into tubes, and when I ran out of those I put them into little bags. I don't like the bags, I think they take up too much space and they are not nearly as uniform as the tubes. However, I didn't have anything else on hand. Eventually I'll go and purchase some empty tubes so that I can get rid of the little bags.

I tried making a holder for the tubes so that they could all stand up vertically, but I found that this obscured their colors. The tubes in the middle were hidden by the other tubes of beads. As I do everything by color, standing the tubes up was simply not a viable option for me. Others have found it a suitable method of storage, so your mileage may vary.

I don't mind digging through the tubes a bit to find the ones I need. When I have 50+ of each size of seed beads it will be a different story. When that happens I'll probably switch to a smaller sterilite container for each color family, or use a container or two to hold a single size of seed beads.

Part Two: Storing Other beads, Findings, and Tools


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